If you’re like me, there are days or weeks when you feel overwhelmed. It is actually normal to have moments like this but when it starts to keep you up at night, affects your eating habits or keeps you from being productive in your day-to-day, it’s time to take action. The problem is that for most people, we just hate telling someone “no” or admitting that we have too much on our plates.
A Frank Discussion
I already know that every person that reads this article could benefit from off-loading several things from your to-do list. I know this because people are all alike. We allow others to pile on the work and we grumble about it to our family, friends or anyone else who will listen. We whine about how hard we work when in reality, it’s all in our control. For the few who work for tyrants, you probably just need a new job. For the rest of us, it’s OUR issue, not our boss’ issue. So, here’s how you fix it today:
- Make a list- You really need to jot some items down so that you can know which ones to take off your plate. Whether you scrawl it out on a Post-It note or type it in your task list, the important thing is to get it down so you know how much you’re dealing with. I’m still a fan of the old Franklin planners and also use an app called Opus Domini (like an electronic version of the Franklin planner) to keep my list current.
- Find at least two items you can delegate- If you have a team, this part should be easy because you can use delegation as a way to develop more junior team members. If you do not manage a team, you must be more creative. There are always ways to kindly delegate “opportunities” to colleagues and you just need to be assertive (not pushy) and explain why it makes sense to have their leadership or involvement on that particular item. How do you decide which to delegate? Easy. If you can find no real value to your personal involvement, nothing you can add to make the task more valuable, get rid of it.
- Just say no- If you’re like me, you probably have at least ten requests in your inbox right now that you can just politely say no to. DO IT. You’d be surprised that people rarely push back when you politely bow out of a request. It’s fair to tell them you do not have the bandwidth to handle the item. Guilt free.
Once you get in the habit of removing 3 from your weekly task list, you’ll find that you’re more apt to remove several each day. Good time management is something you practice and rarely master. With consistent evaluation, negotiation, delegation and candor, you’ll find that those sleepless nights over endless tasks will be over.
Now….. get started! No one wants to keep hearing how busy you are or how overwhelmed you are. Take control. Eliminate the excess. You’ll be glad you did!
It’s very difficult to say No when someone at higher designation asks you to do a certain task.
@David- I agree with you. It certainly is hard to say “no” when a supervisor or boss asks you to do a certain task. There are tactics that you can use to push back though. I often try to gauge how urgent the task is, then negotiate when it can be done. By saying, “You know, I have several priority tasks on my plate today/ this week, can you tell me where this should fall with regard to importance?” This gives the supervisor the opportunity to weigh in on the task requested. You can then say, “I know that _______ has a little more time available this week if you’d still like me to work on my current priorities. Or, we could ask ________ to handle this from my plate so that I can work on your task.” Again, this allows the supervisor to weigh in but you’re still not agreeing to take on more work. It’s all about finesse and negotiation. Good luck. 🙂